"I have nothing but myself and my kids": Jobless Americans struggle during pandemic

33.5 million unemployment claims filed in last 7 weeks
33.5 million unemployment claims filed in las... 02:32

Atlanta — Just to put in perspective how far and how fast the U.S. economy has fallen: in February, the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, a 50 year low. Friday's report could put it anywhere from 15-20%.

Out of work, out of food. The Massachusetts National Guard handed out 8,600 gallons of milk. One in five American households report they don't have enough to eat.

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Labria Chandler is struggling to keep up with bills during the pandemic. CBS News

Labria Chandler hasn't hit bottom. But she can see it in Athens, Georgia. "It's been hectic. I'm behind on my bills, my rent, my life," Chandler told CBS News. "I have nothing but myself and my kids."

The single mother of three lost her job as a line cook. She's two months behind in rent and they've been homeless before.

"I need my place," she said. "I need a roof over my head."

For millions, that roof has fallen in, especially among minority families. A recent study from Pew Research shows 61% of Latino households have lost a job or income, with 44% of black households and 38% of white households.

In Tucker, Georgia, a drive-through line keeps Matthews Cafeteria in business.

"Sixty-five years never laid a person off. We didn't even know how to do it," owner Michael Green said.

Green had to lay off 24 employees. He re-hired them with his Paycheck Protection Plan loan. He told CBS News that he doesn't know where his business will stand in three to six months.

Marquee companies also face that uncertainty; Nieman-Marcus filed for bankruptcy on Thursday. MGM Resorts notified 63,000 employees their furloughs could become layoffs.

Chandler had to pawn her daughter Anayah's laptop to feed the family. "She asks me questions I don't want to give the answer to. I want her to know mommy's trying. I'm trying but it's hard," Chandler said.

Starbucks will reopen 85% of its U.S. stores. Best Buy, Nordstrom, Macy's and the Gap plan to reopen in some fashion this month. It will be months before these reopenings reverse the historic downturn in American unemployment.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.